Originally released last April, Deep Purple's 19th studio album 'NOW What?!' gets the re-issue treatment with a couple of bonus tracks and an appetizing 'The NOW What?! Live Tapes' recorded last summer at the beginning of their world tour to promote the album.
Anyone who still demands that Deep Purple should deliver another 'Machine Head' with a 68-year-old Ian Gillan screaming out 'Highway Star' at the top of his voice might as well stop reading now.
Throughout their tempestuous history and many line up changes Purple have never made the same album twice and have never been afraid of rocking the boat even if it means losing some of their fans overboard along the way.
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'NOW What?!' is Deep Purple's first studio album in eight years and the fifth album to feature guitar maestro Steve Morse whose now been in the band for almost two decades.
Also, it's the third studio album to feature Don Airey on the keys whose been who has been in Purple for just over a decade... Got that?... There will be no mention of former banjo players in this review.
A Top 20 album in over twenty countries with it hitting the top spot in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic and Norway, even the UK has finally woken up to the Morse era with the album getting to number 19 in the album charts.
Produced by Bob Ezrin (Alice Cooper & Kiss),Purple have been allowed the space to manoeuvre and experiment to come up with some refreshing ideas.
'Weirdistan' has a unique thumping rhythm, 'Hell To Pay' has a typical Gillan lyric and a rap reminiscent of his solo days with a keyboard solo to the fore.
Don Airey really expresses himself with a nod towards progressive rock in a homage to ELP on 'Uncommon Man', one of two songs dedicated to fallen comrade Jon Lord.
Steve Morse delivers beautiful passages throughout the album especially on tracks such as 'Apres Vous' while 'All The Time In The World' is a smooth Radio 2 friendly blues mover which may surprise many fans of Purple but is a neat little song nonetheless and the band carry on screaming with the spooky 'Vincent Price' with a chilling riff from Morse.
The two bonus tracks are a honking 'It'll Be Me', a cover of the song originally done by Jerry Lee Lewis, plus 'The First Sign Of Madness' which is certainly no throwaway.
The bonus disc with this Gold edition, 'The NOW What?! Live Tapes', was recorded in Italy, Denmark and Sweden and the crowd sound has been edited together to give a proper live vibe. What will be of interest to Purple aficionados is the inclusion of the new material from 'NOW What?! which is unavailable anywhere else as yet, although I could have done without the zillionth live version of 'Smoke On The Water' and having 'Strange Kind Of Woman' opening the disc when the shows were opening with 'Fireball' is an odd choice, but these are only minor quibbles as the disc is a very welcome addition.
Nothing stays the same in life. Not as dangerous as they once were in their youthful days but Deep Purple are older and wiser and can still surprise with a trick or two by pushing the boundaries further afield.